In court papers, Hirschhorn revealed that the Seminoles gaming profits reached $300 million a year by 2001, with monthly dividends paid to each member. The Seminoles have 3,800 members.
Under the distribution formula, every Seminole family of four receives dividends of about $30,000 a month.
Cypress, a notorious big spender who built a massive Mediterranean-style mansion with his millions, was paid a salary of $500,000 on top of the monthly dividend. Like other Seminole council leaders, Cypress controlled a discretionary fund that he tapped to dole out money to family and other tribal members.
The IRS case against the Miccosukees in Miami-Dade, while similar to the Cypress prosecution, is a civil matter for now.
This summer, the agency escalated its investigation into the Miccosukees finances, demanding that the tribe hand over a mountain of internal records showing millions in allegedly unreported payments from its gambling profits to tribal members.
The IRS sweeping action, which the Miccosukees are trying to stop in Miami federal court, seeks internal documents of the 600-member tribes gaming distributions during 2006-2010 as well as its council meeting records on tax matters from as far back as 1985.
The agency is demanding a long list of documents from Miccosukee disbursement statements to check register reports, plus any tax advice from tribal lawyers and accountants. The demand is part of an aggressive push to recover potentially tens of millions of dollars in back income taxes from individual members.
At the same time, the Miccosukees have turned against their former chairman, Billy Cypress. In a lawsuit, the tribe has accused Cypress of stealing $26 million from the Miccosukees to spend on numerous gambling trips, shopping sprees, real-estate investments and luxury cars.
The suit details a total of $11.5 million in ATM withdrawals by Cypress at casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere, along with an additional $4 million in American Express charges for jewelry, restaurants and other expenses, between 2006 and 2009. Cypress also acquired nearly a dozen properties and residences, from Miami-Dade to Panama City Beach, worth a total of $4 million.
The Miccosukees suit targeting him is the latest of his legal woes.
In 2010, the IRS claimed that Cypress personally owed the government almost $2.8 million in taxes and penalties on $6.65 million in unreported income during 2003-05.